Plant Family Identification - B
(Applies only to those plant families identified within the Wildflowers of Escambia site. When this page is loaded, scroll down to find the general plant family description you seek.)


Balsaminaceae (Touch-Me-Not) -- Plants are usually soft and somewhat succulent herbs with leafy, pale, translucent stems.

Jewel Weed
Impatiens capensis

The flowers are billaterally symmetrical in form, commonly nodding. Each flower has three to five sepals that resemble petals, one forming a backward-projecting nectar-bearing spur; five petals, the pairs at the side united. The lower petals are larger than the upper. Five stamens that are jointed and forming a cap over the pistil are visible.

The leaves are simple, opposite on the stem or whorled about it.

Fruit is a capsule with sides usually elastic at maturity, opening explosively and throwing seeds from the five chambers.

There are two genera and about 500 species. Several species of Impatiens are grown as ornamentals.

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Berberidaceae (Barberry) -- These plants are herbs or shrubs, with flowers in clusters or racemes and often with spiny leaves.

Podophyllum peltatum

The flowers are radially symmetrical in form and solitary. Look for four to six sepals (modified leaves), often petal-like. The flower will have four to six petals, four to eighteen stamens arranged in two circles, with pollen sacs opening by little flaps.

The leaves are simple (consisting of one whole part) or compound.

Fruit is a berry.

There are about 10 genera and nearly 600 species. A few Barberry species are cultivated as ornamentals. Common Barberry is a necessary host in the complex life cycle of wheat rust, a destructive parasitic fungus.

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(Birch) -- Large trees (occasional shrubs including Alder and Hophornbeams). Worldwide there are about 135 species. In North American there are 20 known native and one naturalized tree species and eight shrubs.

The flowers are male and female on the same tree, usually presented in early spring before the leaf emerges. Each flower is small, greenish with four to no petals. The male flowers are in long catkins with one to 20 stamens. The female flowers are in short cone-like or head-like clusters with one pistil.

The leaves are alternate on the stem, often spreading in two rows, simple, mostly ovate or elliptical , doubly saw-toothed with several nearly straight side-veins, paired stipules that shed early.

Fruit is many in cone-like clusters with small nuts with short wings, one-seeded.

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Bignoniaceae (Trumpet Creeper) -- The Trumpet Creeper family consists of trees, shrubs or woody vines, occasionally herbs. The plants have large, showy, clustered flowers.

Catalpa bignonioides

The flowers are in clusters at the end of branches or at the leaf axil. Each is bilaterally symmetrical in form. The calyx is five-lobed, the corolla is funnelform, bell-shaped, or tubular, five-lobed and often two-lipped. Stamens number two to four. All these parts are attached at the base of the ovary.

The leaves are usually opposite on the stem, simple, pinnately, or occasionally palmately compound.

Fruit is a two-valved capsule.

There are about 100 genera and over 600 species known worldwide, mostly in the tropics.

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Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not) -- The family is generally made up of herbs, often covered with bristly hairs.

Indian Heliotrope
Heliotropium indicum

The flowers are radially symmetrical in form, often borne along one side of branches or at the tip of the flowering stem. The flower cluster is coiled like a fiddleneck. Look for five sepals (modified leaves) that are united at the base; five petals that are united into a narrow tube and an abruptly flared top. Around the small entry to the tube there is usually five small pads and five stamens. All parts are attached near the base of the ovary (inferior).

The leaves are simple (consisting of one whole part.

The fruit separates into four hard seed-likesections (nutlets) , or in a few species the fruit is a berry.

There are about 100 genera and 2,000 species, found mostly in warm or temperate regions. Most members of this family are grown as ornamental garden plants.

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Brassicaceae [=Cruciferae] Mustard -- This family is made up entirely of herbs, often with peppery sap.

Yellow Rocket
Barbarea vulgaris

The flowers are usually radially symmetrical or in racemes. There are four separate sepals (modified leaves), four separate petals, the base of each is often long and slender. There will be six stamens with the outer two shorter than the inner four. All these parts are attached near the base of the ovary (ovary is superior in this position). The flower is divided into two parts by parchment-like partitions.

The leaves are usually simple, but sometimes are pinnately divided.

Fruit is a pod, either long or narrow (silique) or short and relatively broader (silicle).

There are about 375 genera and 3,200 species found mostly in cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The family is economically important, providing vegetables, spices, and ornamental garden plants. Some species are unwelcome weeds and a few are poisonous to livestock.

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Bromeliaceae (Pineapple) -- The plants are Epiphytic (rarely terrestrial) scurfy herbs, with long, stiff leaves and flowers that hang in long clusters with conspicuously colored bracts.

Spanish Moss
Tillandsia usneoides

The flowers are often bilaterally symmetrical, in dense spikes or heads; three sepals and three petals, six stamens. All these parts are attached either at the base or at the top of the ovary (superior or inferior).

The leaves may have spiny margins and bases that sheath the stem.

Fruit is a berry or capsule to which the remains of the calyx and corolla adhere.

The family contains about 60 genera and more than 1.300 species, mostly native of tropical America.

Some members of this family have been introduced into other warm regions and cultivated for use as ornamentals or for their edible fruits (pineapple).

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